ON HIS DEBUT AT THE SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS CIRCUIT, THE ENGLISH DRIVER CAME OUT ON TOP IN THE SPRINT RACE TO TAKE HIS FIRST VICTORY IN FORMULA 3. LECLERC ALSO MADE A GREAT COMEBACK FROM 20TH PLACE TO 5TH
Ahead of his appearance at Spa-Francorchamps, Oliver Bearman was very keen to get racing for the first time at the Belgian track, one of the most technical and iconic on the calendar. A hard learning curve had been expected but the British 17-year-old from the Ferrari Driver Academy immediately showed a good feel for the circuit. At the end of an unlucky qualifying session he set the eighth fastest time, which secured him fifth place on the grid for the Sprint Race. At the lights Bearman jumped up to third place at the end of the Kemmel Straight, before crossing the line in second place at the end of lap 1. His attack for the lead came at the second corner, at the exit of Les Combes, and he immediately built up a margin of over a second which allowed him to stay out of reach of attacks from his rivals. On lap 8 the race was stopped for a red flag because of a violent accident which damaged the barriers on the outside of Blanchimont, so the race restarted with a rolling start.
Joy. “I knew that the restart would be crucial,” said Oliver. “I managed to heat up the tyres well before the green flag, and it was crucial to defend strongly from the other cars behind me. When I took the lead after the Les Combes chicane I had the chance to push and build up a good lead that kept me safe from any attacks all the way to the chequered flag.” Thanks to his first Formula 3 win Bearman has jumped up to fourth place in the title standings, 11 points behind Arthur Leclerc and 16 behind championship leader Isaack Hadjar. “I don’t want to think about the championship,” added Bearman. “Today I’m happy with my first Formula 3 win, then we’ll see what happens race by race.”
Arthur. Leclerc put together a fantastic comeback which saw him go from 20th place on the grid all the way up to 5th place at the flag. Arthur’s race started with a good getaway that saw him rise to 14th place at the end of lap 1. It continued with an excellent passing move that took him up to 10th before the red flag interruption. After the restart Arthur kept up his strong progress, managing to finish in fifth place thanks to a fine pace and a series of passing moves that were as fair as they were spectacular. Leclerc’s final position was precious, taking the Monegasque driver to within five points of the overall series lead. The Spa-Francorchamps weekend reaches its conclusion tomorrow with the Feature Race, which will get under way at 8.50 local time.